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Old Feb 22, 13, 2:32 am
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Friday March 29th 10:15am
Water bus cruise from Hamarikyu Gardens to Asakusa

Cost: 720 yen for water bus + 300 yen (150 yen for over 65) entrance to Hamarikyu Gardens
Meet at 10:15am at the Hamarikyu Gardens water bus landing stage inside the park which is a 7-10 minute walk from the park entrance (top left of the map below). I have added a pictorial guide at the end of this post for how to get from the Hamarikyu Gardens entrance to the Water Bus Landing Stage.

Water bus landing stage in Hamarikyu Gardens

A stroll around Hamarikyu Gardens is well worthwhile before the boat trip. The park entrance is a 10-15 minute walk from Shinbashi Station (make sure to leave the station on the Shiodome 汐留 side) on JR (Yamanote, Keihin-Tohoku, Tokaido Lines) or Tokyo Metro Ginza Line (G08) or Toei Subway Asakusa Line (A10), or a 7-10 minute walk from Shiodome Station (E19) on Toei Subway Oedo Line and the Yurikamome elevated train. It is also about a 7-10 minute walk from Tsukiji Market. It should be possible to combine the boat trip with the tuna auction earlier in the morning with a sushi breakfast in-between. The park opens at 9am.

Plan of Hamarikyu Gardens - park entrance top left, water bus landing top right

We will meet at 10:15 and catch a water bus at 10:25. It normally takes 45 minutes to Asakusa via Hinode Pier where most passengers board the water bus. By starting the cruise in Hamarikyu we will be able to secure better seats! During the season (end of March to mid-April) the boat will sail further upstream for some cherry blossom viewing along Sumida Park near Asakusa.

Hamarikyu is a landscaped park built on the site of a villa of the Shogun Tokugawa family in the 17th century (rikyu means villa or detached palace) and is surrounded by a seawater moat filled by Tokyo Bay. If you have stayed in a bay view room at the Conrad Tokyo you would have seen Hamarikyu Gardens below your window between the Inner Ring Expressway and the mouth of Sumida River.

Image from Wikipedia

The area adjacent to Hamarikyu Gardens is called Shiodome (literally 'tidal barrier') and was the site of the Shiodome Freight Terminal until late 1980s. Shinbashi Station next to Shiodome was the start of the first railway in Japan which ran between Shinbashi and Yokohama in 1872. After the freight terminal closed the area has been re-developed and now boasts 13 skyscrapers housing hotels, condominiums and corporate headquarters of companies including ANA, Softbank, Fujitsu, Kyodo News, Nippon Television and Dentsu. Here you can see how the view from Hamarikyu has changed.

Hama-rikyū in 1863, Photo by Felice Beato from Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Japan Guide

On the way to Asakusa the boat will pass Tsukiji Market, Ryogoku (Sumo town), the Asahi Beer Tower (the "golden turd"), and we will get a view of Tokyo Skytree before disembarking in Asakusa. Our boat will sail further upstream along Sumida Park for cherry blossom viewing. An audio guide in four languages including English is available for 300 yen on the boat.

Asahi Beer Tower and Tokyo Skytree from water bus (Wikipedia)

In Asakusa you can visit Kaminarimon (Kaminari Gate), Nakamise shopping arcade and Sensoji Temple (the oldest Buddhist temple in Tokyo though the present building was built in 1950s) and grab a lunch in one of the hundreds of restaurants large and small. Culinary specialities of Asakusa include Tempura, Monja yaki (type of Okonomi yaki, or a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients) and grilled eels. Since I'm not a fan of the latter I might try and find a restaurant serving one of the first two options.

Image of Kaminarimon from Wikipedia

Sensoji and Nakamise from Wikipedia

Another Asakusa gem is Denpoin Temple (伝法院) which has a beautiful private garden not generally accessible to the public. However, from March 21 to May 7 there will be an exhibition of painted wooden plaques with prayers and wishes (絵馬) and visitors to the exhibition will be able to see the garden dating back to the early Edo period. The exhibition is open from 10am to 4.30pm (last admission 4pm) and costs 300 yen to visit. Proceeds will be donated to the Tōhoku Earthquake Releif Funds.

Image of Denpoin Garden from

Denpoin Temple Garden will be quite a contrast to the hustle and bustle of Nakamise shopping street as you will see from the results of this Google image search. I hope to try and visit the garden probably after lunch.

Asakusa is close to other areas of interest including Ueno and Kappabashi ("stores selling everything needed by restaurant operators, with the exception of fresh food" as the Japan Guide describes). It might be a place to pick up some unusual souvenirs but beware that plastic replica of food displayed in restaurant windows in Japan are far more expensive than the real thing.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Japan Guide

Hamarikyu Gardens Entrance to Water Bus Landing Stage

If you are walking from Shinbashi or Shiodome Station or the Conrad Hotel, you will come to this junction after walking under the Expressway. Turn right and cross the bridge.

Entrance to Hamarikyu Gardens.

Ticket office where you pay 300 yen entrance fee.

A small shrine on the way to the water bus landing stage.

You have reached the water bus landing stage.

Last edited by NewbieRunner; Jul 26, 15 at 6:31 pm Reason: added guide from Hamarikyu entrance to water bus landing stage
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